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Budgets raid clean energy, efficiency funds; advocates and businesses decry impact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Budgets swipe funding for clean energy and efficiency programs; advocates, local businesses decry impact to environment and economy
Energy Efficiency and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to be raided

Hartford, Conn.—Labor, public health, consumer and environmental advocates, as well as owners and employees of local clean energy businesses, denounce state budget proposals that massively raid energy efficiency and clean energy programs.

The Republican proposal raids $320 million ($160 million annually) from Connecticut’s nationally acclaimed Conservation & Load Management programs (C&LM) and the Democratic proposal would divert $20 million in revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). That revenue supports the C&LM residential and commercial programs, municipal energy efficiency efforts, and the Connecticut Green Bank’s clean energy programs. Both the C&LM and RGGI funds create jobs, help families and businesses save billions of dollars in energy costs, reduce harmful climate pollution, and supply significant state tax revenue by fueling private growth. Cutting funding for these programs will harm Connecticut’s economy and health, and damage the state’s credibility as clean energy leader.

C&LM is Connecticut’s award-winning energy efficiency program that is funded by a small charge on electric and natural gas bills. These funds provide comprehensive energy efficiency services to businesses and families that reduce wasteful energy consumption and reduce energy costs. No state tax revenue funds the C&LM programs, which are completely independent of state appropriations, and this sweep into the general fund would convert ratepayer money into a new tax on all ratepayers at the expense of cost-saving programs.

The raid would also destroy job growth at devastating levels in one of the fastest growing industries.

The U.S. Department of Energy reported in 2017 that the design, installation and manufacture of energy efficiency products and services in Connecticut accounted for nearly 34,000 jobs.

According to the Acadia Center, since 2010, the C&LM programs have generated more lifetime energy savings through efficiency than the annual generation of the Millstone nuclear power plant. Acadia Center also estimates that the cuts and associated job losses would reduce state income and sales tax revenue by as much as $54 million through FY 2019, and possibly by as much as $84 million if the energy efficiency industry collapses.

RGGI is the Northeast cap-and-trade program that reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector and has resulted in a 40% decline in power plant emissions. Connecticut has benefitted significantly as a member of RGGI, receiving over $176 million in auction revenue to date. Acadia Center estimates the proposed funds raid would cost consumers at least $54 million in lost energy bill savings, with every raided RGGI dollar costing consumers nearly three more.

Advocates and businesspeople urge the General Assembly to reject all raids on energy efficiency and RGGI funds. Connecticut must continue to lead with our nationally recognized clean energy programs that stimulate job growth, save families and businesses billions of dollars, reduce pollution, and supply significant state tax revenue by fueling private growth.

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  What Advocates and Businesspeople are Saying

 “Raiding $20 million from funds that help fight destructive climate change and create Connecticut jobs is extremely short-sighted.  The diversion of RGGI funds will do little to address the state’s deficit, but will have a profound impact on programs that help cut energy costs while reducing fossil fuel use,” said John Harrity, president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists. “Thousands of jobs depend on these green initiatives. Worse still is the notion that in a pinch we can afford to slow efforts to combat destructive climate change.  With the future of the planet at stake, addressing climate change is not ‘discretionary.’  It is an imperative that will shape the future of the world and the safety of generations to come. This is not a ‘choice.’  Redirecting these funds is a betrayal of our kids, and all the kids who expect an inhabitable world.”

“Raiding funds from energy efficiency and clean energy programs would harm both Connecticut’s economy and health for years to come,” said Claire Coleman, climate and energy attorney at Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Investing in these programs not only saves Connecticut families money on their energy bills, but also save lives by reducing our reliance on outdated fuels that pollute our air and water and change our climate. Sweeping these funds will result in millions of dollars of new health costs for Connecticut residents, and will take Connecticut off the path towards a clean energy future.”

“Connecticut’s programs to help families and businesses save energy and money, have delivered billions of dollars in benefits, reduced harmful pollution, and created tens of thousands of jobs,” said Martha Klein, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Connecticut Chapter.  “Massive proposed cuts from Senate Republicans to these vital, life-saving programs are completely incompatible with Connecticut values and greater prosperity for our state. We’re calling on all Connecticut residents to contact their legislators to oppose cuts to both these energy savings programs and Democratic proposals to raid clean energy programs supported by the popular and successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”

“The Republican raid on energy efficiency funds would convert cost-effective investments that save consumers money into a new tax to shore up the state’s budget deficit. But Connecticut’s budget woes partially reflect a broader economic crisis that continues to hit working families the hardest, as the state suffers from a deficit in good jobs. At the same time, we face a looming climate crisis that has already brought more severe storms and major flooding to coastal communities. Fortunately, these two crises have the same solution: we need to put people to work protecting the climate. Investments in energy efficiency do exactly that: they help struggling communities by creating new local jobs, they grow our state’s economy, and they move toward a clean energy future that protects the climate for our grandchildren,” said John Humphries, organizer of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.

“Energy efficiency programs are a critical strategy for reducing our emissions of pollutants which are disrupting our climate and dirtying our air,” said David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter. “Diverting ratepayer funds from these programs turns the fees that energy users pay for these investments into a new tax on our businesses and homes, and on cleaner air and a stable climate.”

“This state’s history of short-sighted policy objectives has perpetuated the fiscal mess that we are in now,” says Kyle Ellsworth, Efficiency for All. “The energy efficiency programs funded by the RGGI funds and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund have a proven track history of success through the increased health and safety of Connecticut homes, through reduced energy use and lower utility bills, and by helping the state reach its carbon reductions and environmental policy objectives. We must fight to preserve this critical economic and environmental tool to ensure that our children grow up in a prosperous and healthy Connecticut.”

“Energy Efficiency is critical to our fight against climate change and the connected health impacts that will affect all of us, regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” says Leticia Colon de Mejias, CEO of Energy Efficiency Solutions. “Energy efficiency has a 1 to 3 return on investment and has been paid for as part of our energy bills. If these funds are raided, this will equate to an unapproved tax for CT rate payers. It is a short-sighted move on the part of legislators and should be avoided at all costs. These funds are meant to protect our energy stability and lower our energy waste, which in turn lowers Connecticut resident energy costs. We should be true to our CT residents and protect their energy future.”

“Connecticut’s consumers do not need a new energy tax, but that’s what these energy efficiency fund raid proposals would effectively impose,” said Bill Dornbos, Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney at Acadia Center. “We have this strong, productive investment in cost-effective energy efficiency – funded entirely by ratepayers for their benefit – that drives industry, jobs, and economic growth. The best, smartest economic decision for Connecticut is to leave the energy efficiency funds alone.  Ratepayers should not have to pay a new energy tax to help solve a state budget hole.”

“Taking clean energy payments away from consumers and giving them to the state will increase pollution, kill jobs, and raise the cost of energy for Connecticut’s families and businesses,” said Environment Connecticut State Director Chris Phelps. “Governor Malloy and legislators should reject this bad idea. Keeping Connecticut’s promise to ratepayers would strengthen the economy and cut pollution.”

“Connecticut’s growing clean energy and energy efficiency industry would be severely damaged by the General Assembly’s proposal to wipe out funding for Connecticut’s cost-effective energy efficiency programs and RGGI,” said Northeast Clean Energy Council President Peter Rothstein. “This move would rob residents and businesses of valuable benefits like bill and energy savings, while also causing energy efficiency companies to cut jobs in the industry, which employs more than 30,000. NECEC urges the Governor and General Assembly to find a sensible solution to address the state’s budget concerns to avoid denying the benefits of efficiency and clean energy to customers, from residential to industrial.”

“Connecticut voters deserve state-of-the-art community college training programs that prepare people for good-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced,” said Eric Gribin, Director of Energy Management Programs at Tunxis Community College. “The AAS Degree in Energy Management at Tunxis Community College trains undergraduate and adult students in analyzing and reducing energy waste in commercial and industrial buildings. Businesses understand that these skills add profits to their bottom line. The AAS Degree in Energy Management is a leading edge program that depends on the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund for a portion of its funding. In our first year, we almost tripled our enrollment, fall to spring semester, thanks in part, to the support we receive from the Energy Efficiency Fund.  Cutting funding to the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund is a backwards move that will hurt businesses (our employer partners) that hire our students and graduates.”

“The Connecticut Green Building Council, in its role as the hub of sustainable building practices in Connecticut, supports energy efficiency programs and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI),” said Ross Spiegel Advocacy Committee Chairman Connecticut Green Building Council. “Cuts to these programs would harm efforts throughout the state to reduce air pollution and be costly to the state’s businesses and residents. CTGBC opposes the raiding of clean energy funds.”

 

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